Praise be to Allaah.
What is required in ghusl in the case of janaabah is to wash
the entire body with water, except that the woman whose hair is in braids is
not obliged to undo them, but she should pour the water on her head in such
a manner that it will reach all of her hair.
That is because of the reports narrated by Muslim (330) from
Umm Salamah (may Allaah be pleased with her) who said: I said: O Messenger
of Allaah, I am a woman with tightly braided hair; should I undo it for
ghusl from janaabah? He said: “No; it is sufficient for you to pour three
handfuls of water over your head, then pour water over you, and you will
become pure.” According to another report: Should I undo them for (ghusl
following) menses and janaabah? He said: “No.”.
Al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in Sharh
Muslim: Our view and that of the majority is that if a woman has her
hair in braids and the water reaches all of her hair, inward and outward,
without undoing the braids, she does not have to undo her braids, but if the
water cannot reach all of her hair without undoing the braids, then she must
undo them. The hadeeth of Umm Salamah is to be interpreted as meaning that
the water reached all of her hair without her undoing it, because making the
water reach all parts is obligatory. It was narrated from al-Nakha’i that it
is obligatory to undo (braids) in all cases; it was narrated from al-Hasan
and Tawoos that it is obligatory to undo braids when doing ghusl following
menses, but not in the case of janaabah. Our evidence is the hadeeth of Umm
Salamah. End quote.
If using water will harm her and lead to her hair falling
out, then she should do tayammum and wash the rest of her body, because
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “But if you are ill or on a
journey, or any of you comes after answering the call of nature, or you have
been in contact with women (i.e. sexual intercourse), and you find no water,
then perform Tayammum with clean earth” [al-Maa’idah 5:6]. This verse
indicates that the sick person who will be harmed or his recovery delayed by
using water should do tayammum. Allaah has explained the wisdom behind this
legislation in the verse where He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Allaah does not want to place you in difficulty, but He wants to purify
you, and to complete His Favour to you that you may be thankful”
If she can wipe her head, she should do that and do tayammum
and wash the rest of her body, because she is able to do that and because
Allaah has not burdened any soul beyond its scope.
Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allaah be pleased with him) was asked: I
am a married woman and I am sick with an allergy in my chest, and I suffer
fromt his condition throughout the year. How should I pray? Can I do ghusl
without washing my head, and wiping it only? Please note that I get this
problem when I wash my head several times a week, and I often do not pray
because I am unable to wash my head and can only wipe it. I am confused and
very anxious and worried, even though I know that the religion is easy. I
hope that you can give me a definitive answer, so that I can live in peace
and obey Allaah and fulfil my obligations properly. Please note that I am a
teacher and I go out to work every day, and if I go outside after having a
shower I fall sick, and Allaah knows that I am confused about how to live my
married life, which means obeying my husband and above all obeying Allaah.
If you will be harmed by washing your head in the case of
janaabah and following menses, it will suffice to wipe it and do tayammum
too, because Allaah says: “So keep your duty to Allaah and fear Him as
much as you can”[al-Taghaabun 64:16]. And the Prophet (blessings and
peace of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whatever I forbid you to do, avoid it;
and whatever I tell you to do, do as much of it as you can.” End quote from
Fataawa Islamiyyah, 1/214.
For a description of tayammum, please see the answer to
question number 21074.
This tayammum is permissible before or after ghusl, because
washing the parts of the body in a particular order is not essential in
It should be noted that some women exaggerate their fear
about hair loss. It is essential that the hair loss should be a real
sickness and not just something imagined or feared, in order for a woman to
be allowed the concession of not washing her hair and wiping it and doing
And Allaah knows best.